The M/V "Virginia G" Case (Panama/Guinea-Bissau)

On 4 July 2011, proceedings were instituted before the Tribunal through the notification of a special agreement in a dispute concerning the vessel Virginia G.

By a letter dated 4 July 2011, the Agent of Panama notified the Tribunal of a special agreement concluded by exchange of notes, dated 29 June and 4 July 2011, between the Republic of Panama and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, respectively, to submit to the Tribunal a dispute concerning the vessel Virginia G. The case was entered in the list of cases as Case No. 19.

On 17 August 2011, the President held consultations with the representatives of the Parties to ascertain their views with regard to questions of procedure.

By an Order dated 18 August 2011, the President fixed 4 January 2012 as the time limit for the filing of the memorial by Panama and 21 May 2012 as the time limit for the filing of the counter-memorial by Guinea-Bissau.

On 30 September 2011, the Tribunal adopted an Order authorizing the submission of a reply by Panama and a rejoinder by Guinea-Bissau and fixing 21 August and 21 November 2012, respectively, for the filing of those pleadings.

Subsequently, by an Order dated 23 December 2011, the President extended the time limits for the submission of the memorial and the counter-memorial to 23 January 2012 and 11 June 2012, respectively. The memorial and the counter-memorial were duly filed within the extended time limits.

By an Order dated 8 August 2012, the President extended the time limits for the filing of the reply and the rejoinder to 28 August 2012 and 28 November 2012, respectively. The reply and the rejoinder were duly filed within the extended time limits.

In its counter-memorial, Guinea-Bissau submitted a counter-claim which Panama, in its reply, requested the Tribunal “to dismiss, reject or otherwise refuse”. In addition, Panama requested the Tribunal “to fix an additional date, following the 28 November 2012 deadline for the submission of Guinea-Bissau’s Rejoinder, by which date Panama may submit final submissions in reply only to the sections of Guinea-Bissau’s Rejoinder concerning the counter-claim”.

By a letter dated 6 October 2012, the Registrar informed the parties at the request of the President that “[b]efore taking a decision on the possibility for Panama to file an additional pleading restricted to the issue of the counter-claim, the Tribunal has to examine whether the counter-claim raised by Guinea-Bissau is admissible under article 98 of the Rules”. In the same letter, both parties were given the opportunity to submit their observations on this particular question by 19 October 2012. Observations were received from both parties within the time limit.

Both Panama and Guinea-Bissau chose judges ad hoc pursuant to article 17 of the Statute and article 19 of the Rules. Tullio Treves was chosen as judge ad hoc by Panama and José Manuel Sérvulo Correia was chosen as judge ad hoc by Guinea- Bissau.

In its Order dated 2 November 2012, the Tribunal found that the counter-claim presented by Guinea-Bissau “satisfies the conditions set forth in” and “is admissible under article 98, paragraph 1, of the Rules of the Tribunal”. The Tribunal also authorized “the submission by Panama of an additional pleading relating solely to the counter-claim submitted by Guinea-Bissau” and fixed 21 December 2012 as the time limit for the filing of this pleading. Panama duly filed the additional pleading within this time limit.

By a further Order, dated 24 April 2013, the Tribunal fixed 2 September 2013 as the date for the opening of the hearing.

Prior to the opening of the hearing, the Tribunal held initial deliberations on 29 and 30 August 2013.

The hearing took place from 2 to 6 September 2013, during which the parties presented their oral statements at eight public sittings. In accordance with article 75, paragraph 2, of the Rules, in their concluding statements, the representatives of the parties presented their final submissions.

The Tribunal delivered its Judgment in the case on 14 April 2014.